This Is No ODDINARY Album
By Jaden Lam
On March 18, 2022, the self-producing South Korean boy band, Stray Kids, released a mini-album by the name of ODDINARY. In its first week of release, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts, marking Stray Kids' first-ever entry and number one on the charts. They also made a record of being the third K-pop group in history to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, alongside groups BTS and SuperM. Personally for me, it was one of my favorite pieces of work the boys have released so far. Everything about the album was a masterpiece and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. I’m still a new fan of their music, so it might be hard to break down everything in the new mini-album, but I will try my best to cover everything in my abilities.
First off, I want to start by reviewing the trailer for ODDINARY that was released a month before the mini-album release. Stray Kids is well known for their hidden clues and meanings inside their music and they often connect their clues back to hints from previous albums. So, since I haven’t been following them since the beginning and I have yet to analyze all their old music from beginning to now, I might not be able to make all the connections they portrayed in this trailer.
Based on my current knowledge, in the trailer, I believe the member Felix is the main character in it and the story revolves around him. Felix strolls by a telephone line, and pinned on it are pictures of the other members on sheets of papers with print reading “MISSING” in bolded red ink. Then, he enters onto a crowded public bus where he fiddles uneasily with a padlock, locking and unlocking it, until he finally decides to keep it closed. When the bus pulls up to his stop, he descends the steps and enters an eerie building with cobwebs coating a neon red sign above the entrance spelling out “ORDINARY.” However, when he starts into the building, the text changes to “ODDINARY.”
One by one, he meets the members in ways that are intended to put the viewers on edge. Felix gets extremely scared of all of them, so he backs himself into an elevator to escape. The member, Changbin, he was escaping from had “Free Hugs” on a gigantic sign hung on a string around his neck. His sign could symbolize how society perceives people who take pride in being out of the ordinary to be freakish and someone to avoid, when in reality all they really want is for everyone to accept each other’s differences and quirks and for people to treat each other with care and love. Throughout the video, it seems like the story heavily revolves around this padlock that contrasts their previous major concept that played with the symbolism of a key.
Since they began their journey 4 years ago, they searched for the key that would give them access to the new world where they could be happier and reach their dreams. Now that the boys are growing in popularity and seeing a bunch more success in their careers, the padlock could symbolize their automatic instinct to lock up some parts of their lives, possibly their quirks. Society seems to only allow celebrities success if they fit into the set standards of success. These standards want artists to fit the trends in popular music and follow a certain formula to easily gain a substantial audience and fanbase.
Stray Kids is attributed as a group with a very unique sound in K-Pop. Oftentimes, people refuse to listen to their music because they claim it’s too noisy, therefore it turns off a great deal of potential listeners and fans. So, when Felix debates whether he should keep his lock closed or open, it could represent the group’s indecisiveness on whether they should change their sound to please the general public without difficulty or stick with their roots and work hard enough to gain attraction through the music they love making. Finally, on the elevator, the member Hyunjin encounters him and asks Felix, “Do you want to be ODDINARY?” Felix responds by unlocking the padlock, and shortly after he’s harshly pushed out of the elevator by Hyunjin, breaking through the glass and falling from the very high building. Mid-air the padlock switches back to being locked and in Felix’s panicked eyes, the padlock proceeds to shatter into pieces.
I think the locked up padlock shattering could symbolize how keeping your quirks locked up and closing up your true self could break you and be detrimental to your health and identity. The fall could represent the death of the old ordinary Felix and his choice to become someone who’s still ordinary in some aspects, but also somehow who embraces his odd traits. It seems like the EP title “ODDINARY,” is a play on words with the words “odd” and “ordinary” being mashed up together to form a word meaning you can be both odd and ordinary at the same time.
Overall, I thought the trailer was incredible in all aspects. It was so cinematic that it almost didn’t feel like a mini-album trailer, but a whole movie trailer. It was very well planned out and I enjoyed analyzing all the small details they had added in. I could tell that Stray Kids and their team put so much effort into the whole concept because it was 3 and a half minutes long, longer than most movie trailers. Not only was the cinematography beautiful, but the sound effects were so realistic! It gave me goosebumps and made me feel uneasy at the jump scares. I was impressed beyond words.